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Michigan Insurance Company loses battle over residency

Chunqin Han and his wife emigrated from China to the U.S. in the 80s.  They attended school at Michigan State and became U.S. citizens.  After graduation Han worked for the DEQ, but in 2002 he accepted a job as a microbiologist in Arkansas.  His wife and daughter remained in Haslett.  He was killed in a motor vehicle collision, and Michigan Insurance refused to pay wrongful death benefits owed to his family under his wife's policy, claiming he was no longer domiciled in Michigan.

Han rented space in Arkansas from a friend and secured an Arkansas driver license and insurance [a legal requirement in most states], but paid income and property taxes as a Michigan resident.  He also kept all of his dental, medical and eyecare in in Michigan and received mail here.  His paycheck was directly deposited in the MSU Federal Credit Union and he kept all of his possessions except his car and clothes at the home owned in Michigan where his family lived. He spent 5-7 days each month in Michigan, and more days during holiday periods.

The Court held that Han remained a Michigan resident, emphasizing that six of the nine commonly considered factors of domicile favored Michigan residency.   While he had established a home in Michigan over ten years and his family occupied it, his abode in Arkansas remained something of a "temporary" existence, even though it had no certain end-date.  Summary judgment was granted to Han's family and denied to the insurer.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262